Hi there everyone. I recently built a custom wood cabinet for my home digital piano, and thought it might be fun to share some photos of the build process with everyone.
I bought my digital piano (a Roland F130R) in 2014. It has a very realistic keybed feel and great quality piano sound, but is built into a very small and modern looking cabinet, which is what I wanted at the time, when it had to fit into a small space.
Fast forward to now, we are in a somewhat bigger house with a larger living room, and I now was wishing I had bought a more traditional “console” type digital piano. Besides looking nicer, it also gives you a more traditional top surface, which is useful to me since I like to have sheet music on top AND an Ipad on a stand to use with music software, all at the same time. Not to mention the obligatory framed picture or miniature bust of Beethoven.
I decided to build, with my father-in-law’s assistance, a hardwood piano shell to install the Roland in. Here are some pictures and notes of the process.
I knew that I wanted the piano to have a clear type stain that would let the wood grain show through, so I used mahogany boards since they can have a nice looking grain. My local hardware store sells 1” thick boards in assorted lengths and widths, which worked pretty well. Here’s a pic of some of the raw boards.
The first part of the project was to assemble the two side panels, one of which is seen below.
Before any buying of wood or cutting happened, I had to make some computations to make sure:
1-The height of the piano keys, when bolted to the panels, would be at the correct height from the floor.
2-The height of the top surface was at a good height for sheet music, when resting on the top panel, to be at eye level
Since the wood boards only came in a maximum width of 1 foot wide, the upper part had to be rotated 90 degrees, compared to the lower section, to make the side panels “deep” enough.
This meant that the wood grain of both sections would run in different directions. Knowing this, I meant to pick side pieces that had a “boring” grain appearance so the the 90 degree contrast would not be very noticeable.
As seen in the picture, I failed miserably at this objective, somehow picking pieces that had big fat stripes of different grain coloration. Best laid plans
The two pieces were joined on the thin edge with a tool called a “kreg jig” which I had recently learned about, it worked very well for that particular job. If the joint looks a little ragged, that’s our fault for holding the 2 pieces freehand when drilling the pocket holes, as opposed to clamping them together on a flat surface first.
For the curved line in the top, we:
-marked intersecting lines of where we wanted the curve to be
-used a water glass to trace the circular curve
-used a handheld jigsaw to cut along the pencil lines. When doing so we clamped both of the upper pieces together so we knew the cut would be consistent for both curved cuts
The pocket holes you see form the kreg jig got filled in later with wood filler, and are on the inside of the piano so you don’t really see them anyway.
For the bottom feet, we used skinnier “trim” pieces of mahogany, screwed into the vertical side panel from the bottom. I used a countersink drill bit when doing so, so the screws on the bottom would be flush and not make the feet wobble or scratch the floor. Later on we also used a sander to round and taper the front edges of the feet.
The next job was to “uninstall” the Roland digital piano from the frame it came in.
-First we unscrewed the piano from the frame it came in by unscrewing the “L” brackets
-As a 2nd step we had to unscrew some additional plastic “side cheeks” that were still on the piano, when they were removed it looks like you see below.
Once we had both side panels built, it was time to attach the “top lid”. In the pic below you see the lid before its length is cut to size.
We cut it so that the top lid extends beyond the side panels, just a 1/2” or so on either side, to give a more decorative appearance. To attach it, we screwed it down from the top, into the top of the side panels, using a countersink bit, then wood screws, then wood hole filler that was sanded down flush.
The piano is not yet bolted to the side panels with L brackets yet in this photo, so to hold it in place while checking everything it is sitting on the piano bench, with some books underneath to get it to the right height.
In this next pic, we have also rounded off the top corners of the side cheek, to make them look less boxy. The curves will be rounded out better later on with sanding.
The piano is now also bolted into the side panels/top panel with its L-bracket, but still does not look very good because of the big empty space above the piano itself.
This issue is solved, partially, by installing a vertical piece of wood that comes down from underneath the lid.It was attached by screws coming in from either side, on the side panels, again using countersink bits and wood filler.
In this photo I have also re-attached the pedal board that came with the unit. Like the piano itself, it attaches to the legs with l-brackets on either end.
Lastly, we have now made another set of rounded cuts, on the bottom of the side cheeks, to again make things look less boxy and square.
Now that things are starting to take shape, it’s time to sand the wood and get it nice and smooth. Some trash bags and painters tape cover the piano so saw dust does not get into the keybed or electronics.
At this point some may be asking “why did you not sand and stain the wood before assembling everything, it would be easier”
The reason for this is, I was not sure if this project was going to come out looking halfway decent, or look like a total mess, in which case I would undo it all and put the piano back in the stand it came with.
So, I did not want to take the time to sand and stain (which is pretty time consuming) until I had it put together and knew I would be happy. Even knowing that both of those tasks would be harder when it’s all put together.
So now it was time to stain and seal the wood. Originally I was going to stain it a “gunstock brown” like we did on some bookshelves we made out of the same wood, which came out nicely. But then I thought I wanted a lighter, more golden color, where the wood grain could be seen better.
The last piece of wood I attached, not seen in previous photos, was a “cross bar” at the back to give everything more stability. On the back of it (which would not be seen since is against a wall), I tested what it would look like with no stain, but instead just an application of “tru-oil” sealer, a tung-oil variant that a lot of guitar refinishers use that deepens the color of wood and gives a nice satin sheen (or high gloss if you do more coats).
It looked like exactly what I was going for, so I decided no stain, just 1 or more coats of the tru-oil.
So, here are a bunch of pictures of the piano once the first coat of tru-oil has been applied. I have also applied a thin layer of mahogany veneer to the front “lip” of the digital piano, which helps it looks more integrated with the piano shell than before. [img]http://i.imgur.com/eN65zm3.jpg[/img][img]http://i.imgur.com/CMzlesx.jpg[/img][img]http://i.imgur.com/htS0nb4.jpg[/img][img]http://i.imgur.com/plW54Sx.jpg[/img][img]http://i.imgur.com/dSBdY7o.jpg[/img][img]http://i.imgur.com/OiPKPlt.jpg[/img][img]http://i.imgur.com/rXYloMY.jpg[/img]
EDIT: I am not sure for this group of images why the forum is embedding the first one but not the rest. They are all using the same link format from imgr.
Once I did put on the first coat of tru-oil, I pretty quickly had some second thoughts and was wishing I had stained it a darker brown after all, for the following reasons:
-The tru-oil alone did not get it as dark as I was hoping. It did so on the test patch I did on the back, but that piece of mahogany was darker and richer than most of the other pieces, so the rest of the piano did not look as good once oiled.
-The side pieces, with their wood grain running into each other at 90 degrees, would not look as odd with darker stain covering up more of that issue.
-The black sections of the digital piano still visible might have blended in better with a darker shade of wood
Overall though, I am still fairly happy.Steps left still to do:1
-Unscrew pedal assembly from the black particle board assembly that they came with, and attach them to a pedalboard made out of the same mahogany wood as the rest of the piano. I can do this by taking 3 skinnier boards, and gluing them together into a single “block” that has the same dimensions of the black pedalboard bar you see right now.2
-Make a music stand on the top shelf out of mahogany wood. If anyone can help give some guidance on what type of hinges I would use to make a lid that stays up when you want it to, but can also fold flat, I would be very grateful. I’m not sure how that works exactly.3
-Install one more piece of wood, laid out horizontally, to cover up the remaining black-colored top panel of the digital piano. Right now that last big chunk of black piano is still visible and makes the whole thing look less intergrated than I would like.
It would need to be on some sort of hinge, so that it could be momentarily flipped up when I need to get to the piano’s button controls, which are located on the left side of that section.
4-More coats of tru-oil and more buffing between coats. I’d like to get it to a better level of “polish” like you see a real piano have.
Anyways, thanks for listening to my long-winded ramblings, feel free to comment or ask questions if you have any!